On Thursday 15 July a positive COVID-19 test result was returned following a test on a suspected case in a person currently under compulsory isolation measures. As a consequence of the positive test result, the Ascension COVID-19 Response Level has been escalated to Level 2 ORANGE. This escalation is in line with the Response Level Protocol.
Under Level 2 ORANGE measures, public venues and facilities remain open. As it is expected that the introduction of COVID-19 into the wider community has not occurred, this escalation is a precautionary measure and serves to ensure that a higher level of alertness is observed by authorities on the island and the general public.
Members of the public should continue to practise good cough and hand hygiene, and be alert to the development of any potential COVID-19 symptoms.
When additional testing confirms negative results and the Senior Medical Officer is satisfied that there is no longer a COVID-19 presence on the island, the Response Level will return to Level 1 AMBER.
Further information regarding this matter will be made available to the public in the coming days.
As ever, anyone who develops a new persistent dry cough, a fever or experiences unexpected shortness of breath should go home, self-isolate and telephone Georgetown Hospital on 66252 for further advice.
The individual in question had arrived at Ascension on Saturday 10 July on a flight from the UK. They had previously returned a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to their departure for the island, and a negative test result on arrival at Ascension.
The individual was observing bubbled isolation with one other person, who is not currently displaying any symptoms. The other person will be monitored and tested by medical staff to determine whether any infection has taken place.
The individual currently has mild symptoms but is otherwise well. They will now be placed into individual isolation and they will have their condition monitored by medical staff.
The staff at Georgetown Hospital remain in constant liaison with experts in Public Health England to ensure that the individual who has tested positive receives appropriate support. Further testing will take place over the coming days to monitor the level of infection.
This is a scenario that AIG had planned and prepared for. Robust measures for effectively managing arrivals to Ascension have been in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These protocols have been developed in liaison with experts from Public Health England and are designed to ensure that any person arriving at the island is kept separate from the general public until the Senior Medical Officer can be assured that they do not pose a risk of introducing COVID-19 into the community.
As a result, the individual who has tested positive has not had any contact with the wider public. Authorities are therefore confident that the virus has been effectively contained and so has not been spread to others in the community.
Are members of the public at risk?
AIG has planned and prepared for this scenario, with robust protocols in place to manage all arrivals to Ascension. These have been designed in liaison with experts in Public Health England to ensure that the risk posed to the island by those arriving from affected areas is reduced to the lowest level possible.
Due to the procedures and protocols in place, the risk posed to the general public by someone who is already in quarantine testing positive for COVID-19 is therefore very low. However, members of the public are encouraged to be on a heightened state of alert until the Response Level returns to Level 1 AMBER and to continue practise good hand and cough hygiene.
When will the Response Level return to Level 1 AMBER?
The Response Level will be de-escalated once authorities are satisfied that testing has determined there is no longer a threat of COVID-19 from the individual who tested positive. Further testing will be conducted over the coming days, and the Response Level may be reduced as a result of these tests.
Where and when were the cases identified?
The case was identified on Thursday 15 July 2021 in an individual who was already in compulsory isolation following their arrival at Ascension on Saturday 10 July. They were tested after the individual self-reported concerns to authorities. Prior to this they had returned a negative test result 72 hours before departure to Ascension and returned another negative test result upon arrival at the island.
What will happen to the individual now?
The COVID-19 positive person has been placed into individual isolation and will be monitored by medical staff. At present they have mild symptoms but are otherwise well.
What about the other people who were on the plane with them?
The individual, as did all others on the flight in question, tested negative on arrival. As such, given their symptoms developed after their journey to the island, at this time it is not suspected that anyone else from their flight is likely to have been exposed to COVID-19 through potential contact with the individual.
The individual they were observing bubbled isolation with will be monitored and tested by medical staff to determine whether any infection has taken place.
What about staff who worked at the airhead when the plane arrived?
As noted, the individual in question tested negative on arrival to Ascension so it is not though that any onward infection could have taken place at that point in time. Even so, strict protocols are in place to ensure that for all arriving planes the risk to those who are required to work at the airhead is effectively and appropriately managed. As a result of these procedures, and the fact the individual was negative on arrival, there is no need for isolation or further testing of any staff members.